One of the many lessons learned from the pandemic is that grandparents can be remarkably creative and tenacious in staying in touch with their grandchildren. Now that we are still going through a month of our new normal, some of us are feeling COVID fatigue. We wonder how long we can still enjoy Zoom tours and what could replace bike rides and hikes when the days are cold, short and dark. So here’s a thought: Grandparents can now give a real gift that will last for years to come by signing up as the Keepers of the Pandemic Memories Archive.
“How could we forget this time?” you might ask. The reality is that our youngest grandchildren – toddlers and preschoolers – will forget they were wearing masks, that people had to stay away from each other, that much of the world around them changed, almost overnight. Our older grandchildren – those of primary school age and early adolescence – will remember it more, but their memories will inevitably fade and fade. How meaningful it could be for them to look back one day and remember the experience, not through the history books but through the personal writings or recordings of their grandparents.
How to start recording memories
Where to start? This is a project that you can do alone or, depending on the age of the child, with a grandchild. Although everyone’s experience is different, one of the goals is to recall the personal details and perspectives of a global event. I hope the following questions provide some scaffolding for your writing.
What do you remember when the COVID-19 pandemic started? I think many of us can remember the day – maybe even the moment – when we realized our lives were about to undergo a seismic change. Where have you been? What were you doing? When did all of this feel real to you and what steps have you taken to prepare for it?
What were the first changes you and your family experienced during the pandemic? Did you or a member of your family immediately switch from working outside to working from home? Did anyone in your family keep leaving home to work? Have you used public transport – and if not, when did you stop doing so? Did the school close immediately? Have you stocked up on beans and toilet paper? What else did you or your family buy? Did you clean up your groceries and treat your mail as contraband?
How have things changed over time for you, your family, and your community? Have you started walking around with friends six feet apart? Have you started to worry less about touching your groceries and more about wearing a mask when you are in public or around others? Did you get angry with people who didn’t wear masks or those who did? How creative were you in finding a place to pee when it seemed too risky to venture into a public bathroom?
What have been the most difficult parts of the pandemic for you and your family? Has the pandemic caused financial and other concerns? Has your home started to feel crowded as you all argued over your computer and Wi-Fi time? Have the people you love the most started to piss you off because you weren’t so used to being around them? And what have you missed the most: going out to eat, sitting down to a meal with friends or extended family, having coffee with a friend? If you travel often – for family visits, work, or adventures – what was it like to be suddenly grounded? And when did you first feel safe on a plane or taking a car trip?
What did you like about the pandemic? As difficult as the pandemic has been for almost everyone, there can be aspects to appreciate and appreciate: maybe not having to dress, having a more flexible work schedule, feeling less ‘should’. in life and enjoy the freedom of just being as opposed to doing. Some of us have reconnected in a deeply meaningful way with old friends. We finally had time to clean the closets, organize the photos, learn new skills and pursue interests long on the to-do list.
What have you learned from the pandemic? Has there been a change in your values and / or your priorities? Do you have a new perspective on what makes you truly happy or fulfilling? Has the pandemic made you consider any significant changes, like a new career, a move, a change in a relationship? Has it given you a new perspective on good health and doing all you can to preserve it?
Turn to hope
The pandemic has stressed and strained us all, and continues to do so. We all live with enormous uncertainty. Despite these challenges, many grandparents still hope that one day it will be behind us. We remain optimistic that our grandchildren will reach adulthood in a world where people can kiss each other, enjoy the privacy of dining out, or the pleasure of sitting around a family table. noisy and crowded for a holiday meal. I hope if you decide to be your family scribe you can keep these hopeful pictures in your mind and imagine your grandchildren someday looking back with gratitude for your efforts and amazement at what we all endured.